Magnets Versus PDAs
Edited by chromatic
How well does your phone play with your PDA? Does your iPod coexist
peacefully with your laptop? No, we're not talking about Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,
USB, or Firewire. Instead, does a strong magnet on one device interfere with
the sensitive electronics of another? A recent thread From the Editors List started with accessories. . . .
So, one of you intelligent folks must know something about the
question of magnets versus gadgets.
I just got a new purse (an orange Kenneth Cole tote--love it, thanks). On the
front it has two pockets, which are the perfect sizes for my Treo 600 and my
iPod, and which close using somewhat strong magnetic clasps. I was warned
against putting the Treo in there, for fear that the magnets might erase stored
Now, it turns out that the Treo itself also has a fairly strong magnet on
the back, where the speaker is. (It can pick up a paper clip!) There are
discussions, in fact, about the Treo erasing someone's iPod.
Anyway, it seems to me that the presence of the Treo's own magnet could be
an argument for or against carrying it in the magnetic pocket, or possibly even irrelevant, but I don't really know. The front pockets are the perfect
location for the Treo, size- and access-wise, but I certainly don't want to
wreck it. Ideas? Comments? Myth-busting?
In any case, if it's not safe to carry the Treo, or even my iPod,
for that matter, in the magnetic pockets, then Kenneth Cole will be
receiving a stern note from me about creating more gadget-friendly totes. (Accessory Hacks? Ahem.)
Simon St. Laurent:
I don't know what's in the Treo, but I'm still amazed that the
USB GPS I bought has a magnet in it. It's handy for attaching it to surfaces,
sure, but it makes me think twice before storing it with the rest of my laptop
On the other hand, it's been at least six months since I used a floppy
disk, which is what I'd worry about most.
On a maybe-related note, my Palm (Zire 71) sometimes goes
blank when I travel. It can be rejuvenated with a standard synch, but I'd like
to know what the problem is. Two possibilities I have considered: 1) magnetic
fields; 2) the lack of nifty accessory pockets in my bags means it gets
jostled around with my phone, wallet, etc., and it could get knocked on without
my knowing and then run down. But this never happens in my day-to-day life.
And anyway, the charge is supposed to last longer than I normally travel. So
P.S. Rael turned me on to a handy synching/charging cable, Zip-Linq, that's
great for traveling and helps rescue me when the Palm blanks out on the road.
Speakers commonly have magnets in them. The magnets are part
of what make the speakers work. So the magnet in your Treo could well be in
its speaker. I can't imagine there's anything to worry about from putting your
Treo in a pocket with a magnetic clasp.
I'd worry more about the iPod, which includes a hard disk. I don't know
whether the purse-clasp magnets would be strong enough to affect that disk,
but I'd be nervous about that.
That'd be something interesting to experiment with. How close and powerful
would a magnet need to be to bother a hard drive? Maybe someday I'll gather up
a bunch of household magnets and find out <grin>. I've occasionally
dropped refrigerator magnets on my notebook, with no ill-effects, so maybe a
purse-magnet wouldn't have enough umph to bother anything.
I'd worry more about the iPod than the Treo. Magnets
typically don't affect electronics, but they can play havoc with magnetic
media (like floppies, zip disks, or the hard drive in your iPod), CRT screens,
and anything else that uses a magnetic field or has moving parts.
Magnets can also fool devices that use a magnet to detect when to switch
on and off, like some laptops and flip-top cell phones. In that case, you
might find your phone mysteriously turn on (or off) when it's near a strong
magnet. Devices that use flash memory (like the Treo, cameras, etc.)
shouldn't have any trouble operating near a magnet.
If it were me, I'd exchange the bag for one with traditional snaps.
Although it *is* orange. Hmm . . .
See, I can tell that Rob really understands my dilemma. *Sigh.*
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